Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Books and Music

Cause’ it’s summer again
I was thinking that it just might never begin
After winter and spring It’s good to have the sun on my face again….
 (Thanks to the Wallflowers)

I was listening to the Bruce Springsteen song, The Ghost of Tom Joad, which is based on the character, Tom Joad, from John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. Thinking about it, I became curious about how much books have influenced books. I was amazed at what I found.

Jefferson Airplane hit it big with White Rabbit, which came from Alice’s trip down the rabbit hole in Lewis Carroll Alice in Wonderland.

Counting Crows Rain King is based on the story by Saul Bellows Henderson the Rain King

Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower came from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (Surprised me!)

Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road came from The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Toilken appears to have inspired many singers: Led Zeppelin were big fans of the books and referenced them in many of their songs, Battle of Evermore; Ramble On; Misty Mountain Hop; Over the Hills and Far Away; T.Rex rocked out to the plot of the Hobbit in Ride a White Swan

Tori Amos was inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn and sang …..Jamaica Inn.

Iron Maiden seemed to be avid readers: they sang about D-Day in The Longest Day, based on the Cornelius Ryan’s book of the same name; Frank Herbert Dune inspired them with To Tame a Land; When Two Worlds Collide takes Philip Gordon Wylie and Edwin Balmer story, When Worlds Collide, and make it a song.

David Bowie’s Oh! You Pretty Thing has lyrics from Ayn Rand’s Anthem.

Emmylou Harris and Dave Matthews sang a duet My Antonia about Willa Cather’s.... My Antonia

Regina Spektor refers to Oedipus Rex by Sophocles in her song, Oedipus: In Poor Little Rich Boy she refers to a short story of F. Scott Fitzgerald; she also takes from the Bible with Samson, about Samson and Delilah.

Mark Knopfler made a tune out of Thomas Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon and sang Sailing to Philadelphia.

Genesis based their song A Trick of the Tail on William Golding’s The Inheritors

The chorus of Procol Harem’s Whiter Shade of Pale was from Chaucer’s The Miller’s Tale.

The Police sang Don’t Stand So Close to Me, with Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita in mind.

Fleetwood Mac touched on mythology with Rhriannon, a character in Triad

The Doors L.A. Woman was inspired by the City of Night by John Rechy

Metallica’s song, One, was based on the book by Dalton Trumbo, Johnny Got his Gun; and their For Whom the Bells Toll was based on Hemingway’s book of the same name.

Green Day rocked out with Who Wrote Holden Caulfield? about Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

William Faulkner’s short story A Rose for Emily was turned into a song with the same title by the Zombies.

Pink Floyd based an entire album, Animals, on Orwell’s Animal Farm.

Jimmy Buffett sings about a character from Carl Hiaasen’s Tourist Season in the Ballad of Skip Wiley; then he retells part of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with Barefoot Children in the Rain.

Nirvana’s Beans gives us their interpretation of Jack Kerouac’s Dharma Bums.

Suzanne Vega sang Calypso based on a scene from the Odyssey by Homer.

ABBA’s Cassandra is based on a character in the Iliad by Homer

Pink sang Catch-22 about Joseph Heller’s…. Catch-22.

Jimmy Eat World’s Goodbye Sky Harbor is about John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany.

Steely Dan tells us about Ulysses encounter with the Sirens in Home at Last.

The Cure based their song, Bananafishbones, on J.D. Salinger book , A Perfect Day for Bananafish.

How Randy Newman could take the historical book, Guns, Germs and Steal and make a song was beyond me, but he did with The Great Nations of Europe.

Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah is based on the story of David and Bathsheba with elements of Samson and Delilah tossed in.

The Beatles song I Am the Walrus takes lines from William Shakespeare’s King Lear. They were also inspired by Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones, and came out with The Fool on the Hill.

The Doobie Brothers took the Ambrose Bierce story, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, and came out with the song I Cheat the Hangman.

Coldplay’s Clocks was inspired by Friedrich Schiller’s William Tell.

The Rolling Stones enjoyed Mikhail Bulgakov’s satire, The Master and the Margarita, they gave us Sympathy for the Devil.

Who can forget Turn, Turn, Turn by the Byrds? Originally done by Pete Seeger, it was taken from chapter three of the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible…

Poetry inspired songs

The Cranberries Yeats Grave from the poetry of William Butler Yeats

Sheryl Crow sang about summer in All I Wanna Do is Have Some Fun, which came from a poem by Wyn Cooper.

Stevie Nicks rewrites Edgar Allan Poe’s poem Annabel Lee and rocks out with it.

Van Morrison took Yeats poem Crazy Jane on God and made a recording with it.

Rush sang Xanadu about Coleridge’s poem Kubla Khan.

Memory from Cats was taken from a poem by T.S. Eliot.

Peter Gabriel Mercy Street was inspired by Anne Sexton’s 45 Mercy Street.

Simon and Garfunkel was inspired by Edwin Arlington Robinson’s poem Richard Cory and made it into the song of the same title.

Crash Test Dummies thought the poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Elliot would be a great song and made it into Afternoons and Coffeespoons.

Even though Eric Clapton wrote Layla for Patti Boyd, it was based on the Persian poem Layla and Majnun….

These is a just a few of the many songs that have been influenced by literature. I had such a good time researching for this was hard time choosing which to include. For those books listed that you’ve read, listen to the song and see if you agree…..

Books and music are two of my favorite things and it was great finding out how they complement each other.

Happy Summer and Happy Reading!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Roam if You Want To~~~

Roam if you want to; roam around the world

Roam if you want to, without wings without wheels
Roam if you want to, roam around the world
Roam if you want to, just grab a book and roam around the world…
(Thanks to the B-52’s)

This is the time of year when the winter doldrums can start to set in. I may be one of the few who was doing snow dances…alas they were for naught. I do know I’m tired of the damp, rainy weather and ready for some nicer days. Until then, let your mind take you on a vacation with some books.


Colin Cotterill introduces us to Dr. Siri Paiboun, the national coroner of Laos. How can you pass by a title like “Disco for the Departed”? Paiboun is also a shaman, which is a big factor in how he does his job. First book in the series is The Coroner’s Lunch.

John Burdett has a great character, Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep, in his series set in Bangkok, Thailand. No, I didn’t misspell the name~~Jitpleecheep kicks it off in Bangkok 8 with quite the cast of characters.

Let’s go to Communist Russia with Martin Cruz Smith~~starting with Gorky Park where we first meet Moscow’s Chief Homicide Inspector Arkady Renko. Watched closely by the KGB, the Kremlin…Renko is an abnormality in Russia… honest, smart, and doesn’t accept the party line……

James Church takes us, of all places, to Pyongyand, North Korea were we are introduced to Inspector O in A Corpse in the Koryo. Little info about James Church, he is a former intelligence who spent most of his time in Asia.

Alexander McCall Smith and his No 1 Ladies Detective Series take us around Africa~~Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, Mozambique and many others in the southern parts of Africa are mentioned.

Let’s go to Dublin with In the Woods by Tana French…and see who comes out. Three kids go in, one is found later on. Twenty years later history seems to repeat itself.

I enjoy police Detective Harry Hole in Jo Nesbo’s procedurals’ set in Oslo, Norway. We first meet Harry in Redbreast. Hole can be his own worst enemy at times, but he is fascinating to follow. I am going to say here and now~~~I like Jo Nesbo's series much better then Steig Larson's series...I feel so much better now.
    C.J. Sansom has a great series set in 1545 Tudor England with Matthew Shardlake. The series kicks off with Dissolution. Mystery and historical fiction doesn’t come much better than Sansom.

Andrea Camilleri takes us to Sicily, beginning with Shape of Water,  where we tag along as Inspector Salvo Montalbano solves murders and eats great food!

Dona Leon~~We meet Commissario Guido Brunetti  for the first time in Death at La Fenice, where he takes us around Venice as he solves murders, and here again, he describes wonderful food!

Henning Mankell’s Inspector Kurt Wallander solves murders in Sweden….and surprise! Nothing is as it seems. Take a trip to Sweden and meet Wallander in the first of the series, Faceless Killers.

John le Carre~~it’s le Carre, espionage doesn’t get any better than this. I was hooked with his first one, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, and I have been a fan every since.

Daniel Silva…really now, did you think I would forget my favorite series author? Silva takes us all over the world with intrigue, murder, espionage with his hero Gabriel Allon. Allon was introduced in The Kill Artist and has taken no prisoner’s since. Silva has a new one coming out soon, and yeah, I’m first on the list……


Jon Krakauer takes to Nepal, the Himalayas, and an ill-fated climb up Mt. Everest in Into Thin Air. What makes someone want to climb this mountain….with the possibility that they might not make it down.

With Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan we end up in Palestine and listen to the viewpoints of an Arab, a Jew and how the county of Israel came to be. Fascinating history from WWII that I never realized.

In Candice Millard’s Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey the River of Doubt we go with the former president down the Amazon River, and what an adventure we have!

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle, where he shares with us his first year there. Some laugh out loud moments as he and his wife experience life in Luberon, restoring an old stone farm house, getting to know his neighbors…and the description of the food and the wine. This one is on my personal book shelf.

I could go on and on about books that take you a place that you have always wanted to go, there are many and I have given you just a few to consider.

Dave Barry said once that reading is a vacation for the mind…treat yourself to one.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

End of Summer~~

The sun and the moon, take turns in the sky
The days drift by too soon
The meadows are kissed by a cool autumn mist
And it looks like summer is over...
Dusty Springfield

Hard to believe that the summer flew by yet again, of course some of those hot humid days couldn’t pass quick enough for me.

One of my favorite things to do during the summer is-surprise! - read. Some of the wonderful books I read this summer were:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I liked it so much I read the rest of the trilogy, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, all in ten days. I know, it’s considered a young adult, it was great….I recommended it to several folks, of all ages, when they came back they raved about all three books too!

It’s always great to read and oldie but goodie, which we did for the mystery book discussion in July with Double Indemnity by James M. Cain. Many of us hadn’t read it, and I’m happy to say that a few of the group were going to read more of his mysteries.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand was a delight! Helen Simonson’s debut will make you smile and remind you that love happens no matter what. These books will leave it with a smile, a real gem.

Love You More by Lisa Gardner~~one of my favorite authors~~once again has us tagging along with Detective D. D. Warren as she tries to get the answers to did Tessa Leoni kill her abusive husband or did someone else? Where is Leoni’s six year old daughter who also disappeared?

Meet Joanna, Ingrid and Freya Beauchamp in Melissa de la Cruz’s magical, sexy tale of witches, Witches of East End, who aren’t just any witches, that haven't been allowed to use their powers since, well, almost forever! Paranormal at its best. Loved it, and can’t wait for the next one in the Beauchamp women series.

Speaking of paranormal, nothing like a visit to Jim Butcher’s detective wizard Harry Dresden in his latest, Ghost Story (#13). Harry’s been murdered and he’s in limbo where he still tries to save his friends and the Windy City from the bad guys...of all types.  This is one series that just gets better and better.

Since I also like to eat, cookbooks are big for me during the summer. My favorite was Amy Finley’s How to Eat a Small Country: A Family's Pursuit of Happiness, One Meal at a Time. Findey was the third season of  the Next Food Network Star… when her French husband was spending so much time cooking on TV and not at home, he wasn’t happy.. Amy walked away from it all, they move to France and well, read it and enjoy this book about love, food and family. (Some great recipes)

I’m always looking for new and interesting ways to cook vegetables, especially the local one. Barbara Scott-Goodman and Liz Trovato give some great ideas with their cookbook Eat Greens: Seasonal Recipes to Enjoy in Abundance. These are just a few of my summer reads that I enjoyed. What were some of yours?

Enjoy the last few weeks of summer~~

Happy Reading!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Reading~~A Vacation for the Mind!

“Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.”

Mason Cooley

It’s the middle of summer! Time to get away, which is not always that easy, so remember this: a book can take you anywhere you want to go. Where would you like to go?

Think about it~~want to visit jolly old England? Pick up a book by Edward Rutherfurd, Phillippa Gregory, Sharon Kay Penman, Alison Weir, Bernard Cornwell, just to name just a few. What did it take to build a cathedral in England? Pick up the classic Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Fantasy and British history together…Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley; Jennifer Roberson will take you on a very merry romp with Robin Hood and Maid Marion in her wonderful novel Lady of the Forest.

Take a trip through America? How else would I know how Centennial, Colorado started from a speck of sand millions of years before it became a town? I learned more about geology from James Michener in Centennial then I did in school. Larry McMurty took me on a cattle drive from Texas to Montana in Lonesome Dove that I wouldn’t have gone on otherwise. How about going along with Lewis and Clark in Stephen E. Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage as they head west to the Pacific? Civil War? MacKinlay Cantor’s Andersonville will haunt you with what one human being can do to others. Michael Shaara wrote, for me anyway, one of THE best fiction books on Gettysburg, Killer Angels. Don’t forget Margaret Mitchell to check out that most southern of southern belles, Scarlet, in Gone With the Wind. Even if you have already read it, celebrate Gone With the Wind’s 75th anniversary and read it again!

What to tag along and help solve a mystery? Help find out who the real killer is? Find out what happens when things aren’t quite what they should be? Any of these authors will love to have you tag along… Lisa Gardener; Chelsea Cain; Ridley Pearson; Charles Todd; Cara Black; Dashell Hammett; Raymond Chandler; James Ellroy; Nancy Pickard; Donald Westlake; Julia Spencer-Fleming; Karin Slaughter. This is a few of the variety of mystery authors that will envelope you in some twists and turns to the end.

How about helping to stop terrorism around the world? These are a few of my favorites, Daniel Silva; John le Carre: Stella Rimington (Rimington was the first woman to head MI5) Helen MacInnes; Alex Berenson: Clyde Eagleton; Charles McCarry; Tom Clancy; Len Deighton~~check any of these out and go on a page turning ride that will make your adrenalin pump.

Do you love a good legal thriller with great courtroom scenes? I know I do. Pick up Steve Martini; John Grisham; Scott Turow; David Ellis; Phillip Margolin; John Mortimer; William Diehl…just some that make you feel that you are inside the courtroom, watching the characters and give great descriptions of their reactions.

Ah, romance. What would summer be without romance? Some great historical romance writers are~~Lisa Kleypas; Rosemary Rodger; Katherine Woodiwiss; Jude Deveraux; Mary Balogh; Beatrice Small, without whom I would never have know what a Kadin was... nor, ahem… what they did.

Little paranormal romance? You can’t beat Diana Gabaldon; Karen Marie Moning; Kresley Cole; Lynsay Sands; Sherrilyn Kenyon; J. W. Ward; Gena Showalter; Charlaine Harris; Christine Feehan….vampires, werewolves, witches, shape-shifters, time-travel, men in kilts…oh my! What more could you ask for!

Enjoy more modern day romance? Here you go…Nora Roberts; Jennifer Cruise; Susan Elizabeth Phillips; Jennifer Weiner; Nicholas Sparks; Elizabeth Lowell; Emily Griffin~~to name just a few.

Hopefully one of these authors will take you away.
There you go~~pick where you want to go and lose yourself for a wee bit. As Dr. Seuss said, "Oh! The place you'll go!"

Happy Reading!